Busy year for construction in Canton in 2010
Sunday, January 2, 2011 - 5:30 pm

By CRAIG FREILICH

CANTON – With building projects totaling $70 million at SUNY Canton and more than a half-dozen other prominent commercial renovations, 2010 was a busy year for construction in Canton.

At SUNY Canton, a massive 305-bed residence hall is to open for the fall 2011 semester and finishing touches are being made to the 140,000 square foot, $42 million Convocation, Athletic, and Recreation Center, nicknamed “The Roos House.”

In the town outside the village, “there were some fairly large commercial projects in 2010 – the Frazer Computing offices, the new Kuno Oil office building, two Verizon cell towers, and a self-storage building at U-Haul,” said Code Enforcement Officer Russell Lawrence.

Inside the village in 2010, the largest projects included the the $1.8 million Canton-Potsdam Hospital E.J. Noble complex addition on Outer East Main Street and the $500,000 renovation of the old P&C store into the new Price Chopper.

Renovation of the new TAUNY headquarters on Main Street also began, noted Lawrence. “They’re doing a nice job over there,” he said. And “there were a handful of additions, maybe 10, mostly re-roofs. adding a deck, or renovation of existing spaces” on residential properties in the village.

SUNY Canton Projects

At SUNY Canton, the new dormitory, called Grasse River Housing Suites, is arranged in a semicircle with a common in the middle. The cost is about $28 million, including financing, for the “green”-rated LEED Silver Certified building, according to college officials.

The firm “drop dead” completion date is Aug. 19, said a member of the team of contractors, led by Northland Associates of Liverpool. That will be in time for students to begin moving in for the fall semester.

“About 15 years ago, we were a college with an enrollment just over 2,000 students,” said SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy. “Now we have more than 3,300 students and we’re still growing at an extraordinary rate. Not only are our residence halls on campus full, but we’re maxing out the available student housing in the area as well.”

The apartment-style complex of 83 suites with more than 300 single-occupancy rooms is adjacent to the Cooper Service Complex and the University Police facility.

The residence hall will be for juniors and seniors. Plans include a mini-store, multi-purpose classroom and meeting space, and a large open courtyard. Crews began working on it in mid-June 2009.

“The addition of this new residence hall is critical as we add degree programs and welcome more four-year students to our community,” said Vice President of Advancement David Gerlach.

The athletic center Roos House, originally scheduled for completion this month, now has a June deadline, but college officials say they expect it to open sometime in the current semester.

The building includes an ice rink, a field house, the college’s fitness center and athletic department headquarters, locker rooms, athletic staff offices, a lap pool, and new student access space.

Northland Associates is also lead contractor on Roos House.

Building Permits Declined

The 85 building permits issued for projects in the town outside the village was down a little from 2009’s 92 permits, but the value of the projects was up nearly 50 percent -- to $2.9 million last year from $1.9 million in 2009. The increase was due primarily to the Frazer, Kuno, Verizon and U-Haul projects.

“That’s what they tell me the estimated worth of the project is,” said Code Enforcement Officer Russell Lawrence, noting the figures are not a tax assessment. The SUNY Canton building projects are handled by state authorities, so are not accounted for locally.

Housing starts in the township stood at 14 each in 2009 and 2010.

Meanwhile, in the village, 90 permits were issue in 2010 for projects worth an estimated $4.3 million compared to 109 permits issue in 2009, with an estimated value of $10.3 million.

The $6 million difference in value between the two years was due two large projects in the village in 2009. They were the conversion of the old Grey Lanes bowling alley on Main Street into the Rushton House development of offices and condominium apartments, valued at $2.3 million, and St. Lawrence University’s work on its Griffith’s Arts Center, worth $5.9 million.

Not counting those big projects in 2010, Lawrence says, “all in all we’ve still held our own,” as the two big 2009 projects more than account for the difference in 2010.

As for 2011, Lawrence says he has “spoken with maybe half a dozen people who will be building homes in the town, and I know of one person in the village who wanted to get started on a house in 2010 but it got held up, so it will probably start in 2011.”

He couldn’t make a prediction of any spurt in building, but Lawrence did say that “banks are lending money, but they’re being a little more cautious. They’re making people jump through a couple more hoops to get the money. They’re cautious about putting too much money out there right now.”